MadHat Press

Dogs on the Roof by Brian Swann

In his 1976 ground-breaking anthology The Prose Poem, Michael Benedikt selected Brian Swann among those young writers making their mark in the genre. Since then, Swann has been called “A daring writer; an explosive writer whose willingness to take risks has left his fiction in good stead’ (Small Press Book Club Selection), and whose “impressive body of work” in “fascinating cerebral territory” seeks a “reader of great mental agility” (Library Journal). G.E.Murray in the American Book Review wrote that Swann’s writing “deals with something completely different, something spanking new [that] charts new metaphysical waters,” calling him “a futurist in pursuit of the self’s ancient news,” while Robert Coover termed Swann “an absurdist who actually is one,” a writer “unique in contemporary fiction: startling, comic, cutting, spare.”
Now in his first collection in many years, Swann has widened his scope to include “short fiction, longer fiction, non-fiction, prose-poems, memoirs, essays etc.,” which Harold Jaffe has called “succinct and precisely refined by a poet of a high order writing nuanced prose. One has to read closely and more than once to get the meaning and feel the rhythms,” and Andrei Codrescu has said that “Brian Swann has tailored an elegant suit of a variety of threads. It’s on my A list of the blooming philosophical hybrids of the last decade.” Jackson Lears notes that “Brian Swann’s forays into prose-poetry and fiction are venturesome, witty, delightfully understated and frequently compelling,” and John Allman writes that “the self discovered in this visionary collection of speculations, narratives and prose-poems will be not only the author’s but also the reader’s. There is no way to rush through this book. Every page gives you something to ponder or admire, be it theoretical physics or aesthetics or prose poem or something historic, like the rendering of the fin de siècle transition into the post-modern. In many ways we’re shown how looking forward is not too different from looking behind, since reality, the world, is non-linear, built on simultaneities. Dogs on the Roof is a thoughtful, exciting companion. Everyone should have a copy nearby.”

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